By Erin O’Neill
Junior State of America Institute on Arizona, also known as JSA, is a four day program designed for students 14-17 years of age interested in politics and becoming better leaders. The JSA programs are held in Texas, New Jersey, Arizona and California. Fifty students are accepted each year for the four locations based on a written essay.
Karen Prosser, the director of JSA on Arizona, said it is her sixth and final year as a part of this specific camp. “It has been my life,” she said. Prosser has been working for 42 years within the program, and trains students who are likely to become future politicians and/or informed citizens later in life.
Question and answer sessions with politicians in the Arizona State Capitol are held every day.
“Students have the chance to focus in on the issues that they care about,” said Prosser. They will have the opportunity to meet and hear from people like Senate Education Committee Chair and Press Secretary.
Prosser’s goal is to teach the students that “if you can do it here, you can do it anywhere.” Learning to interact with people different from their own race and social and economical status is just one of the lessons they learn. Throughout the four days, “They will learn from each other,” Prosser said.
Prosser said she enjoys seeing what route the teenagers take as they grow up and take on the world. “It gives me great satisfaction,” she said.
15-year-old Jesse Hensley, a student in the program, said she is a part of her student council. She applied to the program with her cousin, and both were accepted. “[Being in this program] is going to help me become a better leader and expand my knowledge,” said Hensley.